Ayurveda Vata Dosha – One of Triple Doshas – Its Properties In Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurveda Vata is one of the three ayurvedic doshas (see Pitta & Kapha) that are responsible for health and disease in Ayurveda. Learn about this mobile dosha, its definition and properties as mentioned by ancient ayurvedic experts.
By: Arjun (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery With Modern Medicine).
Sanskrit Derivation Of Ayurveda Vata Dosha:
We can know a lot by the etymological description of a word. Many times it reveals the qualities and sometimes the history of the word.
‘Va Gatigandhanayo’ (Sushruta Samhita, Sutra Section, 21/5)
This root is used with ‘Ta’ suffix and ‘Ounadika’ prefix.
The meaning of this word is movement. It has three connotations – knowledge, movement and getting something. Ayurveda Vata is the factor that is responsible for these three features of our body or living being – knowledge, movement and getting something.
‘Vayoratmaiva atama’ (Sushruta Samhita, Sutra Section, 42/6)
The soul of Ayurveda Vata is Air principle that is one of the five primary elements. The Air primary element stands for the kinetic energy. This kinetic energy principle is responsible in the universe for all movements – planets, solar systems, galaxies and universe to cellular and atomic or subatomic. On earth, all movements like flow of air, flow of water, rain, germination of seeds and all movements of cells are governed by this principle.
Charaka has rightly concluded the role of this humor for our health and in disease.
“All the activities or movement or efforts are accomplished by Vata. This Vata is the life energy (Prana) of all living being. By the vitiation of Vata, all the diseases occur in our body.” (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, 17/116)
Qualities Of Ayurveda Vata:
Charaka described the seven properties of Vata.
- Dryness Or Non-unctuousness
- Cold Or Cool
- Mobility Or Mobile
- Micro Or Penetration Power
- Clearness Or Non-sliminess
Dry Or Dryness Or Non-unctuousness:
The property that helps to absorb or to dry is Non-unctuousness. This is able to produce dryness, hardness and roughness in body. This property increases Vata and decreases Kapha. Tissues are dried or atrophied and the strength of body is reduced. The complexion changes as in Vata vitiation.
This property absorbs the water from stool in large intestine, makes the feacal matter hard and reduces the intestinal motility. This property reduces the libido or sexual drive.
This property is characteristic of Vata. Some of the materials that are dominant in Fire or Earth primary element are also non-unctuous. The lack of unctuousness or fat is dryness.
This property is found in herbs with astringent, pungent and bitter taste. Using too much of foods or herbs with this property causes vertigo, syncope or unconsciousness, tissue atrophy and degenerative disorders.
It is a common feeling that we all have felt some time. This property is manifested in our body. We can see and sense it on our skin, tongue, throat, nails, eyes, lips and face particularly. This also indicates lack of unctuousness in our body.
In diseases, this property implies lack of physiological secretions like saliva, sweat, breast milk, semen, enzymes, hormones and hard stool.
Cool Or Coldness:
This property pacifies burning or heat sensation. The herbs or other food materials that reduce the heat or burning in body have cold property.
Cold pacifies Pitta and increases Vata and Kapha. It is good for tissue growth. It is hemostatic or helps in arresting bleeding. It is diuretic and has astringent action on sweating and defecation.
Using herbs and food with this property helps in Syncope, thirst, burning sensation, inflammations and other afflictions with Pitta aggravation. Mind is pleased with such food.
Cold property materials are dominant in Water primary element. It is also a property of Vata.
The sweet, bitter and astringent taste are cold in nature. Sour taste is cold in touch only but on eating it exerts hot property. This can be used practically. We can apply the paste of sour tasting herbs over the skin in burning sensation in body. But if we consume herbs or food with sour taste, it will aggravate Pitta and its symptoms like burning sensation.
Burning sensation can be felt in otherwise healthy individuals and in some diseases like hot flushes in menopausal syndrome, fever and deficiency of Vit. B group. We can judiciously use the materials with cold property.
Fineness or Micronizing property or Penetration Power of Ayurveda Vata Dosha:
This property is present in fine particles. It is used for such substances that are subtle or with micronized property that make them easily bio-available (penetrate easily to plasma or other body fluids from intestine so that they can affect us earlier).
This property helps in ready dissolution or diffusion. This helps the substance to penetrate through micro body channels or pores. That is why the effects of such substances are readily felt.
This property increases Vata and reduces the quantity of tissues. This dries the waste materials. Substances with this property are easy to digest and absorb.
Such materials are rich in Fire, Air and Ether primary element. Many times this is a favorable property of useful herbs for paralysis, atherosclerosis and other blockages and other conditions where the herb is needed to act fast.
Sometimes this is not a good property as in alcohol and other addictive psychoactive herbs like Opium and Indian hemp. This property easily puts us on a ‘high’ felt with narcotics or addictive substances like tobacco and drugs and then we are easily in their grip.
Vata Dosha Mobility:
This property indicate movement as well as instability. This expels the waste materials like stool with the help of Vata.
This property suggests increase of Vata. It dries or atrophies the tissues so tissue mass is reduced. This property is dominant with Water primary element. Contrarily, its action suggest it to be dominant in Air primary element.
This property is greatly used in herbal cleansing of body. This helps to detoxify the body, particularly the gastro-intestinal tract or alimentary canal.
Clearness or Transparency or Dilute or Non-sliminess:
This property indicates non-stickiness and lack of fibrous structure. This appears clear and clean from outside. This helps in organization of the whole mass by reducing the structural components.
This property reduces the stickiness and divides the structures. This increases Vata. Tissues are atrophied or dried. Wounds are healed. Stools or waste materials are also dried.
Earth, Air and Fire primary element are dominant in this property.
Vata Dosha Roughness:
This property is related to touch sensation. It appears rough and it is not smooth. It has the reducing power. It increases Vata.
With its reducing power, it minimizes the tissue mass or promotes atrophy. Waster materials like stool are dried up and become hard.
Air primary element is dominant in this property. Sometimes Air is accompanied by Fire and sometimes Earth primary element.
By using too much of food with this property, this promotes roughness in body. When we scratch on our skin with nails there is whitish streak.
Vata Dosha Lightness:
Lightness is opposite to heaviness. Its implication is for those substances that are easier to digest and that cause lightness in body.
This property increases Vata and pacifies Kapha. Tissue mass is reduced and the person sheds weight and becomes weak. Wound healing is promoted by this property.
Waste materials are also minimized the channels are purified. The substances with lightness are good for indigestion. Persons with poor appetite can digest these substances well.
Psychologically, this property causes energetic feeling and fortitude.
The primary elements associated with this property are Air, Fire and Ether.
The Place Of Ayurvedic Vata Dosha:
All the channels of body (arteries, veins, lymphatics, nerves, tracts, ducts, cellular spaces and channels in cell membrane) are the route of Doshas. Vata, Pitta and Kapha act throughout the body. They are in a dynamic equilibrium in the healthy state.
The activity is manifested in some particular place when the doshas are vitiated. This gives added advantage to discerning ayurvedist. Vata’s activity is found more in such places:
- Urinary Bladder
- Rectum and Large Intestine
- Pelvic region
- Bones and Bone Marrow
Vata activity is dominant in all these places. Rectum, large intestine, pelvic region are the chief region. Rectum are colon are the most important part.
General Actions Of Vata:
Charaka described the general actions of healthy Vata. (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, 18/51)
- Energy or fortitude or inclination toward physical and mental activity.
- Exhalation or the act of breathing out.
- Inhalation or the act of breathing in.
- Physical or mental exertion.
- The movement of tissues and excretion of waste materials
Charaka further elaborated these actions of Vata (Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 12). Many of these actions represent the action of Air primary element in our body as well as in Universe. Here Vata is taken for Prana – the original source of Vata.
- Maintaining the machinery of our body both in structural and functional sense.
- The underlying basis of all of Five Vata – Prana, Samana, Udana, Vyana, Apana.
- The energy behind all the voluntary or involuntary activities in body.
- The principle that regulates the mind as well as inspires it.
- One that stimulates all the sensory organs to perceive and recognize the sensations (Perception and Cognition).
- One that stimulates all the executive sensory organs to act (Responsiveness and Action).
- One that carries the sensations of all the sensory organs and takes the command of mind to all the executive organs. (The transmission of impulses from the periphery to brain and from brain to periphery).
- One that regulates all the tissues in organized and united and homeostatic way.
- One that regulates the growth and development of all the organs individually and in accordance with whole body. This refers to proportionate growth and development of body organs and our cells.
- One that inspires the speech production from the cerebral or brain’s level to nerves and tongue and other organs.
- Vata is the cause and nature of sound and touch or olfactory and tactile function. Vata is the chief factor in the formation of ear and skin that are the receptor for sound and touch.
- The psychology of excitement, joy, exultation, encouragement and motivation is backed up by Vata.
- Vata helps in expelling out all the waste materials from the body.
- Vata helps in removing the blockage of all the big or small channels of body.
- The growth and development of fetus is regulated and maintained by Vata during intra-uterine phase.
- Vata is the factor behind life and its maintenance.
Non-vitiated Ayurveda Vata is the life of all. It is definitely the strength. Vata is the factor that retains life and body (Sushruta Samhita, Nidana Section, 1/9).
Pitta, Kapha, waste materials and tissues are lame without Vata. They are not able to move. Vata is one that regulates their movement (Sharangadhar Samhita, Purva Section, 5/25).